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Milken-Motsepe prize green energy winners announced

By , ITWeb
Africa , 08 May 2024
Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, co-founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation.
Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, co-founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation.

The Milken Institute and the Motsepe Foundation have announced the winners of the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy, a $2 million innovation competition designed to reward entrepreneurs seeking to increase access to dependable, cheap, and sustainable off-grid energy in Africa.

The awards were recently announced during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles, USA.

Aftrak, a UK and Malawi-based venture, won the $1 million grand prize for its readily installed solar microgrid and custom-designed tractors, which tripled agricultural productivity, raised farmer earnings, and brought electricity to isolated communities.

Omnivat, based in South Africa, received the runner-up award of $250,000 for its containerised power generation and storage system, which provides clean water, clean energy, and Wi-Fi augmented with virtual reality support to rural communities.

The Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy is the second instalment of the Milken-Motsepe Innovation Prize programme, a series of multiyear, multimillion-dollar global innovation competitions and awards aimed at accelerating technological progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Milken-Motsepe prize for agri-tech, the programme's first competition, was introduced in 2021 focused on eradicating poverty and hunger.

In the 2022 edition, hundreds of entrepreneurs from 79 countries across six continents applied to participate for the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy, with 160 submitting technology designs and business plans.

In June 2023, an independent team of expert judges carefully selected 20 semi-finalists who would receive $20,000 to develop and test their ideas.

Each of the teams went through a rigorous, impartial assessment procedure that evaluated their innovation's ability to provide 60 kilowatt hours of off-grid electricity in a 24-hour period using solely sustainable resources.

Five teams were selected to advance to the finalist round. Each team received an additional $70,000 and presented their solutions in a live demonstration in collaboration with South Africa’s Stellenbosch University.

“Meeting the teams and witnessing their work and determination to solve one of the biggest challenges facing Africa was truly inspiring,” said Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, co-founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation. “We congratulate the Green Energy winners and all the finalists. Your innovations show such promise, and we will be watching with pride as you bring your technologies to market.”

This year, the Milken-Motsepe Prize is focusing on fintech, and was announced at the 2024 Milken Institute Global Conference.

The prize will be awarded to enterprises that use technologies to increase small businesses' access to financing and financial services in emerging and frontier economies.

The Milken-Motsepe Prize in Fintech awards $2 million in prizes, including a $1 million Grand Prize for the winning business. Registration is open until 6 August, 2024.

“The impact of Milken-Motsepe Innovation Prizes goes well beyond the financial awards,” said Dr. Emily Musil Church, senior director, environmental and social innovation at the Milken Institute. “This is a global community of entrepreneurs who believe in imagining and building a better, more abundant, and sustainable world. Our role is to identify and support these bold entrepreneurs and to help accelerate their success.”

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